What is a Cause and Effect Essay?
A cause and effect essay is the type of paper that author is using to analyze the causes and effects of a particular action or event. A curriculum usually includes this type of exercise to test your ability to understand the logic of certain events or actions.
If you can see the logic behind cause and effect in the world around you, you will encounter fewer problems when writing. If not, writing this kind of paper will give you the chance to improve your skillset and your brain’s ability to reason.
“Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
In this article, we’ll find out how to create an outline for your cause and effect essay – the key to successful essay writing.
Types of the Cause and Effect Essay
Before writing this kind of essay, you need to draft the structure. A good structure will result in a good paper, so it’s important to have a plan before you start. But remember, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel: just about every type of structure has already been formulated by someone.
If you are still unsure about the definition of the essay, find that out with our guide: What is an Essay?
Generally speaking, there are three types of cause and effect essays. We usually differentiate them by the number of and relationships between the causes and the effects. Let’s take a quick look at the various kinds:
Many causes, one effect
This kind of essay illustrates how different causes can lead to one effect. The idea here is to try and examine a variety of causes, preferably ones that come from different fields, and prove how they contributed to a particular effect. If you are writing about World War I, for example, mention the political, cultural, and historic factors that led to the great war.
By examining a range of fundamental causes, you will be able to demonstrate your mastery of the topic.
Here is how to structure this type of essay:
- Cause #1
- Cause #2
- Cause #3 (and so on…)
- The effect of the causes
One cause, many effects
This type of cause and effect essay is constructed to show the various effects of a particular event, problem, or decision. Once again, you will have to demonstrate your comprehensive knowledge and analytical mastery of the field. There is no need to persuade the reader or present your argument. When writing this kind of essay, an in-depth knowledge of the problem or event’s roots will be of great benefit. If you know why it happened, it will be much easier to write about the effects.
Here is the structure for this kind of essay:
- The Cause
- Effect #1
- Effect #2
- Effect #3 (and so on…)
Chain of causes and effects
This is the most challenging type. You need to maintain a chain of logic that demonstrates a sequence of actions and consequences, leading to the end of the chain. Although this is usually the most interesting kind of cause and effect essay, it can also be the most difficult to write.
Here is the outline structure:
- Cause #1
- Effect #1 = Cause #2
- Effect #2 = Cause #3
- Effect #3 = Cause #4 (and so on…)
Cause and Effect Essay Outline Example
Let’s take a look at an example. Below, you will find an outline for the topic “The causes of obesity” (Type 1):
- Introduction: Nowadays, people are overweight because of their increasing consumption of unhealthy food, a lack of physical activity, and their refusal to work with fitness trainers.
- People are eating a lot of unhealthy food that is cheap, easy-to-consume and contains a lot of calories. (Include statistics: how many people regularly consume unhealthy food.)
- People don’t move enough. Causes: inactive jobs, laziness, and not enough information about the consequences.
- People don’t want to visit a specialist. If they did, they would be informed about the causes of obesity and offered a plan to solve the problem.
- Effect: Until those problems are solved, people will become more and more obese. (Include a prognosis about obesity rates over the next decade.)
- Conclusion: Junk food, a lack of physical activity, and a refusal to visit a doctor are the three leading causes of obesity. We hope that the situation will change. (Include some examples of what each person can do about the problem)
As you can see, we used a blended strategy here. When writing about the ever-increasing consumption of unhealthy food, it is logical to talk about the marketing strategies that encourage people to buy fast foods. If you are discussing fitness trainers, it is important to mention that people need to be checked by a doctor more often, etc.
How do I start writing once I have drafted the structure?
If you start by structuring each paragraph and collecting suitable examples, the writing process will be much simpler. The final essay might not come up as a classic five paragraph essay – it all depends on the cause-effect chain and the number of statements of your essay.
In the Introduction, try to give the reader a general idea of what the cause and effect essay will contain. For an experienced reader, a thesis statement will be an indication that you know what you are writing about. It is also important to emphasize how and why this problem is relevant to modern life. If you ever need to write about the Caribbean crisis, for instance, state that the effects of the Cold War are still apparent in contemporary global politics.
In the Body, provide plenty of details about what causes led to the effects. Once again, if you have already assembled all the causes and effects with their relevant examples when writing your plan, you shouldn’t have any problems. But, there are some things to which you must pay particular attention. To begin with, try to make each paragraph the same length: it looks better visually. Then, try to avoid weak or unconvincing causes. This is a common mistake, and the reader will quickly realize that you are just trying to write enough characters to reach the required word count.
Moreover, you need to make sure that your causes are actually linked to their effects. This is particularly important when you write a “chained” cause and effect essay (type 3). You need to be able to demonstrate that each cause was actually relevant to the final result. As I mentioned before, writing the Body without preparing a thorough and logical outline is often an omission.
The Conclusion must be a summary of the thesis statement that you proposed in the Introduction. An effective Conclusion means that you have a well-developed understanding of the subject. Writing the Conclusion can be one of the most challenging parts of this kind of project. You typically write the Conclusion once you have finished the Body, but in practice, you will sometimes find that a well-written conclusion will reveal a few mistakes of logic in the Body!
Cause and Effect Essay Sample
Be sure to check the sample essay, completed by our writers. Use it as an example to write your own cause and effect essay. Link: cause and effect essay sample: advertising ethic issues.
Tips and Common Mistakes from Our Expert Writers
Remember when that annoying light came on while you were driving home last night? Turns out it really did serve a purpose—to tell you one of your tires was low.
Unfortunately, you ignored the warning light. Unfortunately, you missed class because of your flat tire this morning. Because you missed class, you failed a quiz.
This is a perfect example of cause and effect.
The problem: Another light appeared on your dashboard.
The cause: Low air pressure in a tire.
The effects: You missed class. Because you missed class, you didn’t realize there would be a quiz next week, and you failed the quiz.
Writing an effective cause and effect essay isn’t that different from the facts of this scenario. You’ll outline the causes, the effects, or both the causes and effects of a specific problem or issue.
To better illustrate this, let’s take a look at the basics of this essay type before we dive into two cause and effect essay examples.
Basic Training: Cause and Effect Essays
In order to understand how to write a good cause and effect essay, you need to know four basic points.
#1 Know the purpose of the assignment
In order to write an effective essay, you need to follow your professor’s guidelines.
If your topic is childhood obesity, are you supposed to write about the causes, the effects, or about both the causes and effects of childhood obesity?
Paying attention to guidelines really does make a difference in your grade! Know what you’re supposed to be writing before you begin.
#2 Draft a thesis statement
The thesis statement will establish the focus for your paper. In a cause and effect essay, your thesis should let readers know if you’re writing about causes, effects, or both.
Check out these examples:
Thesis statements about obesity might look like one of these.
If the focus of your paper is the causes of obesity, your thesis statement might be something like this:
Children today are increasingly overweight primarily due to overconsumption of highly processed foods.
If the focus of your paper is the effects of obesity, your thesis statement might be something like this:
The recent increase in childhood obesity has resulted in children suffering from numerous health problems, including high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
If the focus of your paper is both causes and effects of obesity, your thesis statement might be something like this:
Due to overconsumption of highly processed foods, childhood obesity is becoming epidemic and leaving children with numerous health problems, such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
#3 Organize evidence
If you start writing with a jumbled mess of thoughts in your head, your paper is likely going to end up a jumbled mess.
Organize your ideas by starting with a simple chart like this (fancy colors optional, of course). It’s a quick way to list information before you actually begin writing.
You may not end up using all of the causes and effects listed in your chart. But by listing as many as you can think of, you’ll be able to choose the best options for your paper.
#4 Use transitions
Readers need to be able to see how you’re connecting ideas. Move from one idea to the next by using the right transitions and transition sentences.
Here’s a list of transitions you might use in your own cause and effect paper:
- due to
- as a result
And for nearly endless transitional possibilities, check out 97 Transition Words for Essays You Need to Know.
With basic training complete, let’s take a look at two cause and effect essay examples. Then you can see what these elements look like in an actual paper.
2 Cause and Effect Essay Examples That Will Cause a Stir
Essay Example #1: Examining Childhood Obesity
This essay causes a stir not because it’s an amazing paper but because it’s still in need of some revision.
It’s a good start to a cause and effect essay but struggles to get it right.
The essay does provide an overview of the topic, lists causes and effects, and uses transitions. But it has its share of concerns too.
One of the key problems in the introductions is the lack of a thesis statement. At the end of the first paragraph, it does have a broad overview. However, it lacks the specificity of a strong thesis statement.
The body of the paper struggles with organization. It does includes a lot of ideas and research. But it doesn’t quite organize and develop them.
While the paper uses transitions to link ideas, it goes overboard. It includes transitions to link lists of statements rather than introduce fully developed arguments.
Finally, the conclusion is almost non-existent. A Works Cited is also missing.
Hopefully that helps you avoid some of these issues in your own essay. Now let’s dive into the second of our two cause and effect essay examples.
Essay Example #2: The Negative Effects of Technology
Though this paper struggles a bit with organization, it does include a clear thesis, use of transitions to link ideas, and a basic discussion of the negative effects of technology.
Note that this paper uses evidence from sources to support ideas but doesn’t always use proper in-text citations and does not include a Works Cited. Both of these are required in MLA format.
Congratulations! Your basic training using cause and effect essay examples is complete.
Now that you know the basic components of a cause and effect essay and can spot them in a sample essay, it’s time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).
Remember the weak elements in the cause and effect essay examples as you write your own essay to make yours shine.
If you’ve drafted some causes and effects to your topic but are stumped as to how to put them into essay format, try outlining. (Read How to Write a 5-Paragraph Essay Outline.)
After you’ve outlined and have a complete draft, send your paper to a Kibin editor to make sure your paper is in good shape!
Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.